Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This One's For Me

My very favorite grocery store in the whole wide world (I guess I can't say that because I haven't been to them all) is Central Market.  I go in that store like a kid in a new toy store in a big city.  I'm in awe when I look at each section of the store, my favorites being the produce and deli section. I could spend several hours in a Central Market exploring and sampling new things.  If I were loaded, I could also drop a pretty penny there.  I always go up and down every aisle looking and picking up and reading ingredients.  And the meat market isn't too shabby either.  I've taken my kids there on field trips (yes, it's entertainment for the whole family), and their favorite department is the meat market.  Strange creatures are found there, things like whole octupuses (according to Oxford dictionary, that's the right plural of octopus) frogs legs, whole fishies and tons of other fascinating things.  And the produce section has so many different varieties of mushrooms and potatoes that seem like space creatures.  One of the things I always buy there is marinated bocconcini, little balls of Mozzarella marinated with olive oil and herbs and red chili flakes.  My daughter and I always fight over them.  I usually win (not really).  I don't have a Central Market where I live now.  But, anytime I'm in a city that has one, you can bet I'll show up there.

The very first time I stepped into a Central Market, I discovered something else amazing about this store.  They have a beautiful gourmet take-out section and a mini restaurant staffed with chefs to create a meal for you.  There is a line for pastas, gourmet sandwiches and pizzas, to name a few.  So we decided to eat lunch there.  I ordered this decadent pasta with shrimp, chicken, artichokes, mushrooms, spinach and Parmesan cheese in a lemon cream sauce.  It was pricey, but it was so worth it.  It was inevitable that I had to create my own version of this pasta.

Now, I know a lot of men frown on the idea of eating artichokes, including my husband.  But I persevered and persuaded and eventually he agreed to eat my version of this beloved pasta.  And he loved it! Artichokes and all.

So here's my version of this pasta.  Something you should know about it though...the sauce is made with heavy cream, but it's not a thick sauce. It's a little thicker than just adding in heavy cream, but still kind of a runny sauce.  If you prefer a thicker sauce, no problem.  Just sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour in the skillet after cooking the mushrooms. It will thicken up quite nicely with the addition of wine and cream.

Go get some shrimp!  It's time to eat!

2 shallots, chopped
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons (depends on how lemony you want it)
3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 to 3 C heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C white wine
2 C fresh spinach leaves
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1 lb bowtie pasta (or whatever pasta you like)
1/2 stick butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Shaved Parmesan for garnishing

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Melt the butter in a skillet over high heat and drizzle in some olive oil. Cook and brown the chicken until it's done.  Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Reduce the heat to medium high.  Add the shallots and mushrooms into the same skillet.  Add in more olive oil if you need to. Cook until the mushrooms are browned and the shallots are done.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  When mushrooms are done, pour in the wine and deglaze the pan.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes or until most of the wine is cooked out.  (This is the time to add in flour if you want to.)

Sprinkle in the chicken bouillon and add in the garlic.  Next add the chicken back in.  Add in enough cream to cover over all of it and make sure there is enough to cover all of the pasta.  Add in the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese.  Cook until bubbly and thickened.  Add the shrimp in and cook about 3 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and done.  Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and spinach.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.  Serve over the pasta.  Garnish with the shaved Parmesan cheese.

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